Effective Aug. 19, Public Health Madison Dane County has reinstated a mask requirement for public indoor spaces; many individual venues and businesses also have instituted requirements for proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test to attend events. Before heading out, check for current guidelines on the relevant business websites or social media accounts.
Madison Fire Department Open House, Thursday, Aug. 19, Fire Station #8, 3945 Lien Road, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Check out the new, high-tech addition to the Madison Fire Department’s vehicle lineup: a Volterra electric fire engine. Stop by Station #8 where the first-ever in-service electric fire engine in North America will be on display, and experts who contributed to the design will be available to answer questions. The engine has been serving Madison’s east side since late May, but this is a chance to see the groundbreaking engine up close and in person.
Eat Local, Give Local, Thursday, Aug. 19, various Dane County restaurants: Supporting local businesses is as simple as eating at one this Thursday. Stop in for a bite to eat at a participating restaurant and you’ll support the business and also Dane Buy Local; 10 percent of your bill will be donated as part of its annual Eat Local, Give Local day. Dane Buy Local is a nonprofit business organization that uses education, collaboration and promotion to create a strong local economy in Dane County. Find the full list of 38 participating restaurants here.
Madison Night Market, Thursday, Aug. 19, State and Gilman streets, 4-9 p.m.: Shop downtown Madison businesses, munch on food from local restaurants, and enjoy live music at the first installment of the fifth annual Madison Night Market. Madison’s Central Business Improvement District has moved this annual event mostly to State Street, hoping to bring shoppers to downtown businesses and restaurants still recovering from the pandemic. Stores will stay open late, restaurants will expand outdoor seating areas to accommodate diners, and food carts and pop-up restaurants will also make an appearance among the varied vendors. Raine Stern and Panchromatic Steel will be playing music at Peace Park, and more busker-style performances will be found throughout the event. Future market dates: Sept. 16, Oct. 22, Nov. 18 and Dec. 16.
Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival, Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 19-22, Angell Park, Sun Prairie: There are few summertime treats quite like fresh sweet corn on the cob…at least once you get the hang of cooking it right. Or, you can leave it to the experts in Sun Prairie, and pick up a tote of steamed ears at the annual Sweet Corn Festival. (Note: You can buy corn only on Saturday and Sunday.) There’s much more going on through the weekend, including the traditional fest-opening parade down Main Street at 6 p.m. on Aug. 19, a carnival and (natch) a beer tent with bands and other entertainment. Find more info here.
Riff Raff, Thursday, Aug. 19, Red Zone/Annex, 6 p.m.: Even if you don’t know any of rapper Riff Raff’s own music, you may know his style from features in songs by blackbear, Migos, Diplo and Far East Movement. In Riff Raff’s newest single, “$PUSSY,” the eccentric artist raps about a new cryptocurrency venture, $PUSSY Financial. Riff Raff is touring 12 cities in 13 days with DJ Whoo Kid, and they are bringing along Cash Motivated, Jae Mansa and Big Lotion. Also n the bill: BOBdAHIPPIE, Tha Mid City Kid, Tas Raww, Water Tower Records, B-kuPPs, Its Chase.
Esteban Touma and friends, Thursday, Aug. 19, The Rigby, 7:30 p.m.: As a host of the local branch of The Moth, a writer/producer for Love Wisconsin and comedian, Esteban Touma was a regular presence in Madison after moving here in 2013. But in 2019 he left town to focus on stand-up comedy, performing around the country (and on Comedy Central’s Up Next). For this showcase, Touma has gathered some of his favorite regional comedians: Dana Ehrmann, Charlie Kojis, Adam McShane and Rory Rusch.
Capitol City Band, Thursday, Aug. 19, Rennebohm Park, 7 p.m.: The Capitol City Band kicked off its 53rd season on July 4 and has been holding down their traditional Thursday night summer spot at Rennebohm Park since then. But Aug. 19 marks a special milestone for the ensemble, directed since 1981 by Jim Latimer: 900 free community concerts. A special, top secret song will open the concert, which includes “There’s Something about a Hometown Band” and more fan favorites from a variety of genres. As they say, “Bring a lawn chair and a friend” to this free concert. Concerts continue Thursdays through August 26.
Dodge County Fair, through Sunday, Aug. 22, N6885 High Point Road, Beaver Dam: Yes, there are rides and games, animals, a truck and tractor pull, and delicious, devilish fair food. But it’s always most fun to see what mix of legacy acts and up-and-comers are scheduled for the evening concerts at the fair in Dodge County, our neighbor to the northeast. This year includes at least two guaranteed audience participation moments. On Aug. 19, “Fishin’ in the Dark,” the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band song which has remained inescapable in Wisconsin since 1987, is sure to inspire a sing-along. And on Aug. 21, Blue Öyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” will certainly cause a beer bottle clank-along (unless anyone is ambitious enough to bring a cowbell); opening is Starship featuring Mickey Thomas. Jordan Davis represents modern country on Aug. 20. All entertainment is free with gate admission, so the fair is also a bargain. Find the full schedule at dodgecountyfairgrounds.com.
Sundown District, Thursday, Aug. 19, Crucible, 10 p.m.: This hip-hop showcase hosted by Nèlanks Productions features DJ Will E Banks along with performances by Jay B Coolin, Dirty Disco, Swan Flower and Tru West (visiting from Milwaukee). The evening also features dance performances by Hitterz Collective members Obsidian and Void.
Badger Steam & Gas Show, Friday-Sunday, Aug. 20-22, S3347 Sand Road, Baraboo, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.: If you have ever seen a tractor truly strut its stuff, you will understand the attraction of the Badger Steam & Gas Show. The Badger Steam & Gas Club of Baraboo celebrates and preserves the history of vintage agricultural and industrial machines. This year’s featured maker is Rumely, a company out of Indiana that specialized in threshers and large tractors. There will be hundreds of exhibits of machines powered by gas and steam, plus a huge swap meet and flea market (starting at 8 a.m. daily). The showgrounds at S3347 Sand Road are just off Highway 33 north of Baraboo. $10 admission.
Dane Dances, Friday, Aug. 20, Monona Terrace rooftop, 5:30 p.m.: A perennial favorite community happening, Dane Dances is back for 2021, and week three is sure to inspire both dancin’ (VO5, at 6 p.m.) and romancin’ (Antone’s Tribute to Barry White, 8 p.m.). DJ Chamo gets the party started and plays between bands, and food and drink will be available from Kipp’s Kitchen, Lake Vista Cafe, La Taguara and Lemongrass. Gates and vendors open at 4 p.m., and music starts at 5:30 p.m.; if rain, the show goes on inside Monona Terrace. The series concludes on Aug. 27 with Sounds of Slave, Public Announcement and DJ Ace. Ready, set, dance.
LINE + Linn Jennings, Friday, Aug. 20, Bos Meadery, 6:30 p.m.: What Lies Ahead, the debut full-length album by Linn Jennings, was released in February 2020, just ahead of the pandemic closing down the world. Since then, Jennings moved to Austin, Texas, so this is a rare chance to hear their melodic, propulsive folk songs. Joining for a stellar double bill is LINE, a Madison-based rock-folk-pop project led by Maddie Batzli; the group’s Choosing Sides was another excellent 2020 release which hasn’t yet had much of a chance to shine in a live setting.
The Erotic Adventures of the Static Chicken, Friday, Aug. 20, Garver Feed Mill, 7 p.m.: The winner of this week’s imaginative and/or obtuse band name award certainly is The Erotic Adventures of the Static Chicken. A long-running Milwaukee-area band that has existed in various permutations over the years, their BlueStem Jazz concert is the spot to be for fans of improvised music. The project currently features the core trio of Aaron Turner (sax), Jeremy Kuzniar (drums) and Matt Turner (bass), and the only way to know what you will hear is to be there when it happens.
Dane County Breakfast on the Farm, Saturday, Aug. 21, Hinchley Dairy Farm, 7-11:30 a.m.: Duane and Tina Hinchley run a lovely dairy. We’ve been in the barn and have petted the cows. We can attest to it being a great site for the traditional Breakfast on the Farm event that lets everyone in on the pleasures of the farm. Breakfast will give you enough energy to do a farmer’s work: Cheesy scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausage, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, milk and coffee. Games, face painting and wagon rides are also on the agenda. The farm is at 2844 State Road 73, east of Madison.
Badgers are Back (to Back), Saturday, Aug. 21, Camp Randall Stadium, 9 a.m.; UW Field House, noon: After 17 months of watching the Badgers compete onscreen only, UW-Madison is giving fans a sneak peek of the football and volleyball teams ahead of their fall seasons. Check out a football practice in Camp Randall, followed by remarks from new Athletic Director Chris McIntosh and head coach Paul Chryst, plus a performance by the UW Marching Band. Next, catch the volleyball team’s annual Red-White Scrimmage. The 2020 Big Ten champions boast the return of several powerhouse players after an undefeated regular season this spring. Reserve a ticket for one or both free events online.
Back to School Celebration, Saturday, Aug. 21, Alliant Energy Center, 9 a.m.-noon: At this annual event, this year happening drive-through style while supplies last, elementary and middle school students in need will receive a new book bag filled with school supplies. The event is hosted by 100 Black Men of Madison Inc., a nonprofit that aims to help students reach their full potential by eliminating financial and accessibility barriers and improving quality of life. Students must be accompanied by their parents, and everyone should remain in their vehicles during pickup; COVID-19 vaccinations are also available for anyone age 12 and up.
Java Jive, Saturday, Aug. 21, Breese Stevens Field, 10 a.m.-noon: Brunch, jazz, a splash of coffee and a great cause: it’s time for the 26th annual Java Jive fundraiser. The Rape Crisis Center of Dane County is a free resource center that provides services to survivors of sexual violence, and Java Jive benefits RCC services such as crisis intervention, short-term counseling, support groups, medical and legal advocacy, self-defense and community education. Madison businesses and chef Patience Clark will provide coffee samples and light brunch for event guests. Emcee Sabrina Madison will guide attendees through a program featuring music by Afro-Peruvian jazz band Golpe Tierra and DJ Phil Money, as well as a silent auction and raffle. Find tickets here.
Agora Art Fair, Saturday, Aug. 21, 5500 E. Cheryl Parkway, Fitchburg, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.: If you missed Art Fair Off the Square, or even if you didn’t, the Agora Art Fair at the Agora in Fitchburg is a good one, so bring your buying wallet. More than 100 exhibitors will sell their painting, ceramics, jewelry, photography, glass, metals, woodwork, mixed media, fiber and sculpture. Local food carts and restaurants will be on hand, Music will be by the Madison Flute Club, Bi Dana, Red Hot Horn Dawgs, Grupo Balança and Reverend Raven & the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys. Details at AgoraArtFair.com.
Africa Fest, Saturday, Aug. 21, McPike Park, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.: Africa Fest centers on all things African, especially food and music, but it’s really all about inclusion. This year’s theme is “Building and Bridging Communities.” The fest starts with “Strides For Africa,” a 3k/5k run/walk and clean water fundraiser. Throughout the day, African immigrants in the Madison area will showcase their heritages with performances, and Tani Diakite & the Afrofunkstars, Atimevu, Limanya, The Nigerian Masquerade, and Sista Sensi & the Buds will all take the stage. Plus there will be African and African American food and African arts and crafts for sale.
Eken Park Festival, Saturday, Aug. 21, 700 block of Mayer Avenue, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.: The Eken Park neighborhood began in the 1940s. It grew as soldiers returned from World War II, many of whom got jobs nearby at Oscar Mayer. Now it’s an up-and-coming neighborhood for young families, with a festival that has both kids activities and the coolest local bands: dancehall reggae from Jimmy Sugarcane People, loud electric covers from Low Czars (whose members include Isthmus calendar editor Bob Koch), Latin surfer-ska from Meskales, indie rock from Scorched Waves, and the pop/R&B/rock of The Periodicals. Food carts and beer, of course, too.
Gandy Dancer Festival, Saturday, Aug. 21, Westland Promenade, Mazomanie, 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m.: Right now you may be asking yourself, “what the heck is a gandy dancer?” Merriam-Webster identifies the term as referring to railroad laborers, and Mazomanie’s festival honors the village’s railroad history with a historical exhibit (and mini-train rides for the kids). There’s also a strong lineup of bluegrass music, headlined by Chicago’s Henhouse Prowlers and also including local favorites Gin Mill Hollow and Art Stevenson and High Water. Find the full lineup at gandydancerfestival.org.
Everclear, Saturday, Aug. 21, Keva Sports Center, 4 p.m.: In 1995, Everclear was everywhere with the catchy hit “Santa Monica.” The Portland, Oregon, band landed on the pop side of grunge, but its 2000 album Songs from an American Movie Vol. One shows the band’s range, including a buoyant cover of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl.” This “Summerland 2021” tour is stopping at a number of varied venues, from the Gallo Center for the Performing Arts to county fairs to a Harley-Davidson dealership. With Last Crack, Foo Foo Dolls and Sunspot.
Lady T Jazz Quartet, Saturday, Aug. 21, Cafe CODA, 7 & 9 p.m.: Toscanellie Marcelain, aka Lady T., has long been keeping jazz vocal standards fresh in the Chicagoland area, as well as at festivals in the Midwest and around the world. For her first visit to Cafe CODA, Lady T is accompanied by her longtime guitarist Jim Pierce, along with bassist Peter Dominguez (currently professor of double bass and jazz studies at UW-Madison) and drummer Todd Howell. Find tickets at cafecoda.club.
Magic Pride Festival, Sunday, Aug. 22, online, 1-5 p.m.: The third annual summer fest from OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center will again be a virtual event, with speakers, drag performers and music by Kat and the Hurricane, Persephone B. Diamond, K.I.L.O. aka SkitL’z, DJ Saint Saunter and many more. However, you don’t have to stay home to watch it. The Magic Pride Festival is also hosting four Madison-area watch parties that will be livestreaming the event: at the Olin Park picnic area and at the OutReach office (bring your own food/drink); and at Five Nightclub and Woof’s/D’Vino (both serving food and drinks). Find the livestream and info on related events at outreachmagicfestival.org.
Token Creek Chamber Music Festival, Tuesday-Wednesday, Aug. 24-25, Festival Barn, 5 p.m.: A favorite event for classical audiences for more than three decades, the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival returns to live concerts following last year’s retrospective anthology of streaming events. While attendance in person is limited, the concerts will also be available to stream the following day and throughout the festival. The series kicks off with the ever-popular jazz sessions, with a focus on the work of Irving Berlin played by the Token Creek House Band (including co-artistic directors John Harbison, piano, and Rose Mary Harbison, violin). Find tickets and program info at tokencreekfestival.org; concerts continue through Sept. 5.
Orton-Front Festival, Thursday-Friday, Aug. 26-27, Orton Park; Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 28-29, Yahara Place Park: The Marquette Neighborhood Association’s iconic festivals join forces this year for one weekend of music, food, vendors and more, taking place at both Orton and Yahara Place parks. It’s Orton that begins the long weekend with the traditional dusk performances by Cycropia Aerial Dance, as well as music by Oak Street Ramblers on Aug. 26 and Hirt Alpert on Aug. 27. The party moves to Yahara Place Park (home of the Waterfront Festival) on the weekend, where you’ll want to set up camp but will still have to decide between two stages filled with local favorites (Wagoner & Gaines, Raine Stern Band, Funkee JBeez, Cris Plata and many others) and touring performers such as Los Straitjackets, Bassel & the Supernaturals, Eric McFadden and Kate Vargas, and more. And don’t forget the Fools’ Flotilla, a group paddle to the fest hosted by River Alliance of Wisconsin, starting at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 28 from the Tenney Park Locks. Find the full schedule at marquette-neighborhood.org.
Bongzilla, Thursday, Aug. 26, High Noon, 7:30 p.m.: If the name Bongzilla isn’t enough of a clue, the fact that this Madison-based trio titled its latest album Weedsconsin should tell you all you need to know. Proudly influenced by marijuana, Bongzilla will light up Madison on the first night of an eight-date tour of mostly upper-Midwestern cities. With a hazy history dating back to 1995, and plenty of hiatuses along the way, Bongzilla didn’t waste its pandemic-induced time off the road — recording the aforementioned Weedsconsin, a split LP with heavy Italian sludgers Tons (Doom Sessions, Vol. 4) and a pair of 7-inch singles. Homegrown stoner metal at its finest. With Bridge City Sinners.
We hope it’s handy for you to find the Picks in a single weekly post. The individual Picks can still be found in the usual places online: collected here, and sprinkled throughout all the events.